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Navajo codes (was: POLITICS <G>: Trolls!)

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Sunday, July 7, 2002, 0:12
Roger Mills writes:
 > Stephen DeGrace wrote:
 > Okay, the IAL Romanico was
 > >originally
 > >> developed as a private language by a gang of
 > >shoplifters, but I'm not
 > >> aware of any use by political or military groups.
 > >>
 > >>
 > >
 > >OMG, that's so cool, I hope it turns out to be a true
 > >story. Thanks for sharing the link!
 > Yes, quite interesting.  Evidently a quite thoughtful group of "schoolboys".
 > The remainder of the site shows the author to be a quite sincere, and not
 > too flammante, auxlanger.
 > --------------------------------------------------
 > S.DeG. also wrote (re the Navajo code-talkers):
 > >... I'd think it would be something
 > >for the Navajo to be proud of, really... JMHO...
 > As I understand from assorted TV shows on the subject, yes, they are proud
 > of it.
 > Apparently they were able to transmit a lot of information in plain Navajo,
 > but some words (perhaps e.g. "tank") were spelled out with Navajo words
 > assigned to the letters by convention ("tank"might have been, in Navajo,
 > 'fifty rabbits ate sour tomatoes' or somesuch.)

As I remember it -

The lack of appropriate vocabulary was one of the reasons for the
failure of a similar scheme in WWI, using a different native language
(Choctaw?), so a good deal of attention was paid to this.

Most items of technical vocabulary lacking in Navajo were assigned
codewords.  I don't have the book with me, but one I remember was
"mortars" -> "guns that squat".  Major geographical features like
Japan, Australia, America were given codes also.  Anything that came
up without a code or a Navajo word was spelled out in an alphabet
where each letter was represented by a Navajo translation of an
English word beginning with that letter.  In order to prevent
frequency analysis of this, there were multiple codes for common
letters (Otherwise, the Japanese cryptanalysts could, for example,
have noticed a repeating phrase of 11 words, with the same word in the
3rd, 5th, 8th, and 10th positions, and another word repeated in the
6th and 11th, and identified the obvious location).


Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>